More than one billion people use Facebook Groups every month, and now the social network is starting to let advertisers join the cliques.
As part of a test, Facebook is showing ads in the Group feeds of some people in Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand.
“We have started to test delivering ads to people in Facebook Groups, and will be evaluating the response before determining how we will move forward,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement, confirming a TechCrunch report published on Monday.
The ads resemble Facebook’s news feed ads and show up only in Groups’ feeds on Facebook’s site and mobile app. Facebook is targeting the ads to the individual members of a Group based on the Group’s topic as well as information it gleans from their respective Facebook accounts, like how old they are, where they live and what they’re interested in.
If Facebook decides to officially run ads within Groups’ feeds, that new, supplementary inventory could offset its ad load dilemma.
Sometime next year, Facebook will likely have maxed out the ratio of ads to organic posts in people’s main Facebook news feeds, Facebook CFO David Wehner said in July. That means that to continue to grow its ad revenue, Facebook will be more dependent on getting more people to use Facebook more often and getting advertisers to pay more for the ads it can put in front of those people.
That’s all well and good, but Facebook can’t achieve revenue growth by just sticking more ads in front of people. Facebook has reason for not wanting to tip the balance towards too many ads in people’s news feeds, but also for wanting to find other avenues to place ads, diverting the pressure on its news feed and maintaining some direct control over its revenue trajectory. Ads in Groups, like ads in Instagram and Messenger, could satisfy both wants.